New directions in Change-Making

Happy Earth Day!  As you’ve undoubtedly heard a million times before, “Earth Day is every day.”  And at ECM that’s certainly the case.

That’s why today is a great day to highlight change-making projects that you can be a part of.  Today and every day!

Summer Solstice Local Foods Gala:  Save the date for Saturday evening June 21.  ECM’s Advisory Circle is cooking up a very special event you won’t want to miss!

Living with Climate Change

California drought.originally published by Transition Culture

No water.  That pretty much sums up living with climate change around here, in Los Angeles.  California is currently experiencing “the worst drought in 500 years.”  We had one minor “rain event” in October just before Rob Hopkins came to town, and another minor rain event in late January. Up until this week, we’d had 1.02 inches of rainfall since last July, instead of our normal 15 inches.  So much for our so-called “rainy season.”

As I write this, we’re experiencing an extraordinarily severe “biggest rainstorm in two years” (which may bring our total annual rainfall up to 3 inches, approximately the level of a prior “record drought”).  Soon we’re headed into what are traditionally our dry months.  In a normal year, zero rain typically falls between May and November.

Backyard Wildlife Habitats

Zauschneria (California Fushia) is a hummingbird magnet

Elements of Backyard Wildlife Habitats

1. Food
2. Water
3. Cover
4. Places to Raise Young
5. Sustainable Gardening

–from the National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program

* Water * Cover * Open ground * Mulch * Nectar sources * Fruit * Seeds * Annual wildflower seed
— from Las Pilitas native plant nursery

A Gratitude Economy

In many spiritual circles, it is popular to talk about gratitude.  Gratitude encompasses much more than a quickie “thank you.”  It implies a much deeper state of mind, one that practitioners realize will position you to receive even greater abundance.

Gratitude – together with all the volumes that have been written about it – is very much an ingredient of the gift economy.  A very beautiful ingredient, which enriches our hearts and spirits, at the same time as it potentially invites more substantial and tangible gifts.

Some communities are beginning to set up “gift circles” — a collection of people who want to engage in gifting practices on a regular basis.  But you don’t need to wait for an official gift circle.  Here’s how you can get gift economy concepts rolling right now.

Hau to be erotic: going deeper into the gift economy

Gifts have the function of bonding communities together.  … If your entire life is nothing but money transactions, … then you don’t have community because you don’t need anybody.
— Charles Eisenstein, Amsterday Sept 2009
My dad just gave me a brand-new sawzall reciprocating saw.  Yesterday its maiden voyage helped to repair the rainwater harvesting tanks at the community garden.  In the spirit of gifting (in Maori they call it hau), with this “second giving” the sawzall entered into the gift economy.

Getting Wise about Water

Southern California has a bizarre relationship with water.  The water that flows from your tap or garden hose in Los Angeles comes from hundreds of miles away, from the Owens River Valley, from the Colorado River, or from the State Water Project which is basically the Sacramento area.  Meanwhile, all the rain that falls here locally on the city each year is treated like a waste product.  It is whisked away as fast as possible, off our properties, into the storm drains, and out into the ocean (where each year its chemistry and pollutants cause great disruptions to ocean life).
Over the past few years, California has experienced droughts severe enough to merit water use regulations.  Residents complained – a lot – but in our classes at the Community Garden we point out that some of the regulations are wise gardening practices anyway, and that water consciousness is the new normal.

The One-Finger Test

  In the Community Garden at Holy Nativity, we use what we call “the one finger test.”  That means you take your finger and stick it into the garden soil – about one inch down into the soil.  The soil down there should feel moist, like a wrung-out sponge.  If the soil feels moist, your

Long and Slow and Deep

When your one-finger test says the soil needs water, apply the water long and slow and deep.  When people lightly spritz an area, with “making the surface turn brown” as their guide, the water does not penetrate to the root zone where water is needed.  Plants are trained to put out surface roots to capture

Water the Soil, Not the Plants

We have an unfortunate construction in the English language in that we typically say “I need to water my plants.”  But thinking back to the Soil chapter, and the fact that all garden watering reverts back to what is good for the soil critters, we don’t water plants, we water soil. As you learn more

In the Cool of the Night

For dry summer months, LADWP’s watering regulations aren’t limitations, they are good gardening sense.  Don’t water if it’s running off the surface (fix the surface problems – see “sandy soils” above).  Don’t water before 4pm or after 9am because evaporation in the hot sun means your plants aren’t getting the benefit of the water you